Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Toyota Arena – Ontario, Ca – 11/30/19

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an arena juggernaut super group formed by four members of progressive metal/hard rock band, Savatage. The band only tours in winter and is so massive that they have a west coast version of the band and an east coast version of the band with two members from Savatage taking control of each version. Bassist Johnny Lee Middleton, drummer Jeff Plate, and guitarists Al Pitrelli and Chris Caffery. Two decades and hundreds of sold-out arena shows later, all four musicians still tour with the band each winter, albeit as members of different touring troupes. Pitrelli and Middleton are the longtime anchors of “TSO West,” while Plate and Caffery are stalwarts of “TSO East.” The band is known for their extensive use of lights, lasers, and pyro that can be seen from space by the International Space Station and makes for one of the most beautiful shows that anyone will ever see. TSO has never needed an opening act so their shows are always 2-3 hours long. This tour was celebrating 21 years that TSO has been touring yearly and in celebration, were performing their debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories in its entirety . The newly re-named Toyota Arena (formerly Citizens Business Bank Arena) had two shows and with the first show in the after noon packed and possibly sold out, it’s safe to assume that the second show in the evening was also packed.
The lights went out and the packed venue erupted in excitement as the venue’s huge stage setup was beautifully lit up. Phillip Brandon serves as TSO‘s narrator/storyteller and came out to say hello to the audience and introduced the show to the audience. The and came on stage and started the show with the choral piece Who I Am which is a beautiful start to the show. Afterwards, the debut album was started with An Angel Came Down with singer John Brink. The song is beautifully executed just like in the album. The stage was covered in bright lights which is what TSO is known for. After almost every song, Brandon would come back out to continue telling the story to the debut album. TSO is also known for adding theatrics to their shows which includes lots of fire shot in streams to match the music playing looking like a dance. During the performance of First Snow, there was foam dropped from the ceiling to match the effect of snow. One of the most memorable songs performed is TSO‘s most famous song, Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. The song perfectly combines elements of metal with the spirit of Christmas and is a perfect song for any Christmas situation. TSO continued to play classics from the debut album which included Ornament, Old City Bar, A Mad Russian’s Christmas, and Promises to Keep. The album came to an end with An Angel Returned and the band left the stage. Standing alone center stage was guitarist Al Pitrelli that stayed behind to thank everyone in the audience for coming out and if they were ready to blow more stuff up with the rest of the stage coming to life. The audience, of course, cheered. The band came back out to perform some classic TSO tunes starting with The Storm/The Mountain which also featured a brand new Tesla Coil that also shot out fire. It seems TSO always found ways to wow the audience. Being that TSO was formed by former members of Savatage, it’s no surprise to see them bring out some covers. The first Savatage cover was the popular track, Handful of Rain. TSO also bring out some classical tunes like Beethoven and Mozart blended with a metal twist and of course, lots of lasers and flashing lights. Pitrelli once again too a quick break to introduce all the band members involved. The last one he introduced was co-founding member Paul O’Neill who tragically passed away in 2017. Pitrelli mentioned how a cassette he had never seen before suddenly appeared in his studio. Upon playing it, he realized it had been a never-before-heard acoustic song by O’Neill. In his honor, Pitrelli played the song and named it Can You Hear Me Now. Another one of the highlights of the show was when TSO played a cover of the classic Savatage song, Believe. It was beautifully executed just as the original song. Other TSO classics performed included Wizards In Winter, Christmas Canon Rock, Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness) and Requiem (The Fifth). To end the spectacular show, TSO played a reprise version of Christmas Eve and went all out with fireworks, lasers and fire everywhere. A grand ending to one of the biggest stage shows the Earth has ever seen. The whole band came out to bow to the audience, then left. TSO is without a doubt one of the most spectacular bands you’ll ever see live and should be seen by anyone and everyone.

TSO/Chloe Lowery – The Prince of Peace

 

The Aquabats/PPL MVR: Discovery – Ventura, Ca – 11/22/19

Two of the greatest rock bands alive right now The Aquabats and PPL MVR (People Mover) announced a tour together for some true quirkiness and out-of-this-world entertainment. The Aquabats have been around since 1994 and have released five albums with a sixth album set to be released “any day now” according to singer The MC Bat Commander. PPL MVR are an ancient species of unknown origin that explore myth and mystery through guitar riffs and auto tune vocals. They have released two albums with the newest album The Chosen released recently. The second to last stop on the tour was the Discovery bowling alley in Ventura, California. It was Friday night and what better way to spend it than with Yetis and crime-fighting superheroes.
The venue was nicely packed as PPL MVR came out on stage and started their show with Day of the Dead from their self-titled debut album. The members of PPL MVR go by SNWBLL (guitar/vocals), K-PO (bass), Q (drums), and their human Dave Pino (guitar). The music is meant to…move people. Hence their name, PPL MVR. Whether it be dancing, banging your head, or raising your horns. PPL MVR next played Touch & Go, a song from the new album. That song really got the audience moving and singing along. PPL MVR kept moving the audience by playing moving songs like Move, NML (Animal), and Mad. During the performance of The Chosen, SNWBLL went into the audience with a blue marker of some kind and marked the audience on their face who were “Chosen”. In the end, SNWBLL brought a little boy on stage and gave him a special mark on his face and dubbed him the leader of PPL MVR. PPL MVR next played their self-titled song, People Mover. Upon finishing it, PPL MVR played a cover of Where Is My Mind? by The Pixies. SNWBLL once again went into the audience and rocked out on the middle of the floor. PPL MVR thanked the audience for coming out then left the stage.
The lights went out and a movie started to introduce The Aquabats and show their crime-fighting ways. Once the movie ended, the members came out in their traditional masks and matching costumes. The first song performed was The Shark Fighter! and to go with the song, two inflatable sharks were tossed into the audience to be thrown around for the whole song. The band members go by the names of The MC Bat Commander (vocals), Crash McLarson (bass), Jimmy the Robot (keyboards/saxophone), Ricky the Robot (drums), Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk (guitar). The next song is one of their most popular songs, Cat With Two Heads! The Aquabats are best known for their comedic and theatrical shows which includes monsters and villains. The third song performed was Martian Girl! MC Bat Commander noticed a little girl dressed as a martian and brought her up on stage. He asked her where she was from and she said, “outer space”. MC Bat Commander brought the Martian Girl up on stage to dance with the rest of The Aquabats. One of the best songs performed of the night was Pizza Day! and what better way to celebrate the song than to bring out a giant slice of pizza and toss it at the audience. MC Bat Commander brought out a few kids in the audience before one of them finally agreed to be tossed on top of the pizza and…pizza surfed all over the audience. The Aquabats kept up the fun and entertainment by playing fan-favorite songs like Chemical Bomb!, Hey Homies!, and Look at Me, I’m a Winner!. The show seemed to come to an end with Burger Rain! with a video of burgers falling down like rain. The Aquabats left the stage, but the audience wasn’t ready to call it a night just yet. After a short break, The Aquabats came back out for a couple of encores. The first encore was one of their most popular songs, Super Rad! Fans were happy to hear this catchy song and sent some of the audience into a moshing frenzy. To end the night, The Aquabats played another one of their most popular and fun songs, Pool Party! and of course all the kids in the audience were invited on stage to dance and party while the mosh pit continued. The show ended and clearly everyone had a great time. Both The Aquabats and PPL MVR put on super fun shows that will leave you wanting more and anyone looking for a good time should definitely check out both bands.

 

The Aquabats!

 

PPL MVR

Gwar: The Belasco – Los Angeles, Ca – 10/24/19

Scumdogs of the Universe Gwar rose from their frozen barren home in Antarctica to lay waste to human filth. A tour was announced with Sacred Reich, Toxic Holocaust, and Against the Grain. The choice of venue for Gwar to do battle with humans was the Belasco theater in downtown Los Angeles, Ca. Plenty of fans/prey were present ready to declare war on Gwar.
Toxic Holocaust are a thrash metal band from Oregon. On October 4th, 2019, they released their sixth studio album, Primal Future: 2019. Toxic Holocaust came out to the packed venue and started their show with Gravelord. With thrash metal filling the venue, fans started moshing. Toxic Holocaust makes some fast toxic thrash metal music to fill your ears with. Toxic Holocaust continued to drive the fans wild as they played thrash classics like Acid Fuzz, Nuke the Cross, and War Is Hell. Their songs are somewhat short which let them play a lot of songs  even with a short set time. Toxic Holocaust finished their show with The Lord of the Wasteland the left the stage. The show was barely getting started, but already things were getting crazy.
Up next was the thrash metal band, Sacred Reich. They have been around since 1985 and have released five studio albums including their newest album Awakening which released on August 23, 2019. It was their first album since their last album which was released in 1996. Sacred Reich came out and started with Manifest Reality, one of the songs from the newest album. Sacred Reich’s music has always been political so it’s no surprise to see song titles like The American Way, One Nation, and Independent. Fans continued to mosh away to this classic thrash metal band. Sacred Reich brought their show to an end when they played Surf Nicaragua. Sacred Reich said goodbye to the audience, then left the stage for the headlining band of the night.
Gwar released their fourteenth studio album The Blood of Gods in 2017. It is the first album not to feature founding member David Brockie aka Oderus Urungus due to his death in 2014. Even with his death, Gwar lives on with their new singer, Blothar. The stage was set and fans were chanting for Gwar to come out. The lights came out and a news broadcast started on the screen. A police officer with a big obvious prop head came out on stage warning the audience to go home. The members of Gwar came out on stage and started their macabre show with Fuck This Place from the newest album. The officer did battle with Blothar before Blothar eventually took his sword and struck the officer’s head severing it and streams of blood came out which were aimed at the audience. It’s one of the highlights of a Gwar show. Lots of fake blood, space semen, and other otherworldly fluids. The first thing you’ll notice about Gwar is how they’re all dressed up in grotesque costumes which goes with the band’s mythology which portrays the band members as interplanetary warriors. Gwar next played one of their most famous songs, Sick of You. The third song was Krak Down and once again featured a chubby police officer who gets axed in the chest which is then torn off by gwar and continued to spurt blood into the audience. It was madness seeing lots of blood quench the audience and having the members of Gwar fighting other monsters on stage. Gwar continued the massacre by playing blood-spurting tracks like Maggots, Bring Back the Bomb, Death to Dickie Duncan, and Brat You to Death. The final song of the night was Gwar Theme and naturally, there was lots of blood involved, but cannons were brought out this time. Gwar left the stage, but the fans weren’t ready to go home and were still hungry for more. After a brief break, Gwar came back out for an encore. The encore was an AC/DC cover of If You Want Blood (You Got It). This time, Gwar had captured a few humans from Los Angeles and were sacrificed to Gwar’s meat grinder on stage. The show ended and Gwar left Los Angeles in a bloody mess. Fans were seen covered in red liquid, but happy and smiling.

 

Gwar

 

Sacred Reich

 

Toxic Holocaust

Belphegor and Suffocation: 1720 – Los Angeles, Ca – 11/3/19

Austrian blackened death metal band Belphegor and death metal legends Suffocation announced a co-headlining tour to please the metal masses. Two brutal metal bands coming together can only mean there will be lots of banging heads, horns, raised, and loud music. One of the stops on the tour was the 1720 warehouse in Los Angeles, Ca. A Sunday was an odd choice for a metal show, but metalheads still showed up to show loyalty to their beloved metal bands.
Death metal legends Suffocation have been around since 1988. Their eighth studio album …Of the Dark Light was released in 2017. It was the last album to feature original vocalist Frank Mullen. In 2018, Suffocation announced that they would do one final tour with Mullen who had been only touring with Suffocation part time. Now in 2019, Suffocation continues on with vocalist Ricky Myers who fronts the death metal band, Disgorge. Suffocation came out and started with Thrones of Blood. They received praise from their fans as they played their classic death metal music. Suffocation is known for putting on a brutal performance and their fans loved moshing and banging their heads to the music. Suffocation played many of their hits including Clarity Through Deprivation, Cataclysmic Purification, Pierced From Within, and Catatonia. Suffocation never had a dull moment in their performance and the music went perfectly with Myers’ deep guttural vocals that they are known for. Suffocation ended their show with the classic death metal tune, Infecting the Crypts. Fans moshed and raised their horns showing their love and appreciation for these death metal legends who will be around for a long time still.
Belphegor are named after Belphegor, one of the seven princes of Hell. They released their eleventh studio album Totenritual in 2017. Plenty of fans were seen wearing Belphegor‘s merch so you know they were more than ready for them. The stage was covered with Belphegor‘s stage props including real animal bones, wooden upside down crosses and lit candles. Belphegor came out and started their show with Sanctus Diaboli Confidimus. Right away, you’ll notice how the band members dress up for their performance. With white face paint with singer Helmuth going further by adding streaks of blood to his face as if crying blood. The venue was filled with Satanic hymns and death metal growls. Helmuth would continuously make evil faces to give his face paint a more evil and sinister look. Belphegor continued to plague Los Angeles as they played evil tunes like The Devil’s Son, Belphegor- Hell’s Ambassador, Stigma Diabolicum, and Lucifer Incestus. Helmuth took a quick pause to bring up one of his stage prop which was the skull of a goat and held it high above his head making one of his usual grotesque faces. Belphegor‘s lyrics have always been about Satanism, Anti-religion, and War. Belphegor closed out their show with Baphomet, the left the stage. Fans stayed chanting Belphegor‘s name. After a few minutes, Belphegor came back out for an encore. The encore is one of their best songs, Bondage Goat Zombie. Belphegor finished up their set, thanked the audience, then came out to hand out picks, shake hands, and take pictures. It was a great night for metal.

 

Belphegor

 

Suffocation

Delain/Amorphis/Anneke: The Grove – Anaheim, Ca 10/11/19

Another great European metal tour came through the USA. This time, the American audience would be treated to Dutch symphonic metal band Delain, Finnish melodic death metal band Amorphis, and Dutch singer Anneke Van Giersbergen. A great package for all European metal fanatics. One of the later stops on the tour was the Grove in Anaheim, California. Even before doors opened, there was a line of fans waiting to get in. A Friday night seemed perfect for bands of this caliber.
Anneke came out and started with a cover of Ih-Ah originally by Devin Townsend Project. Her show is completely acoustic so the usual heaviness and speed of the songs was completely changed to sound acoustic. Still, it was very calming to hear her absolutely beautiful voice. One of the highlights of the show was hearing her go back to her roots of her days in The Gathering and played a cover of Saturnine. Another one of the hits played was Jolene originally by Dolly Parton. She encouraged the audience to sing along and those that new the song, gladly sang along. Van Giersbergen isn’t usually playing the guitar so it wasn’t uncommon to see her struggling a bit when it came to playing or making sure it sounded just right and would often say her mistakes out loud. Seeing her do her mistakes was actually really cute and she and the audience would laugh together. Van Giersbergen played some really well known songs including Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd) and Like a Stone (Audioslave). Being the opening act, Van Giersbergen had a short set and decided to treat the metalhead audience with a cover of none other than heavy metal legends Iron Maiden by performing a cover of Wasted Years. Playing that intro on acoustic guitar was no easy task, but she managed to pull it off and even the audience joined in on signing along to the chorus. Van Giersbergen finished up her show and left the stage. The show was already off to a great start.
Amorphis came out and started with the opening track from the newest album, The Bee. Amorphis sounded great, just as they do on the album. Up next was one of the best songs on the new album, The Golden Elk. The song is a bit lengthy at just over six minutes, but it’s a perfect six minutes for such a beautiful song. The whole band was very energetic making sure to use the whole stage as their playground rather than stand one the same spot for the whole show. Some of the other hits played included Into Hiding, Wrong Direction, and Heart of the Giant. Amorphis always sounds great live as singer Tomi Joutsen alternates between harsh vocals and clean singing. Joutsen made note on how on the new album, there’s one song that has a special lady on guest vocals. That lady was Anneke Van Giersbergen. Coincidentally, she’s also on tour with the band. Joutsen brought her out to sing Amongst Stars, one of the best songs on the album and one of the most beautiful songs that Amorphis has ever written. The duet singing between Joutsen and Van Giersbergen was absolutely beautiful and perfect. Seeing Amongst Stars being performed was definitely a special moment. To end the performance, Amorphis played House of Sleep. A perfect ending to a great show. Amorphis wrapped up their show and left the stage setup ready for the headlining band of the night.
Delain came out and started with Burning Bridges, a brand new song from the upcoming new album that also has a music video out. The last member to come out was the beautiful and talented, Charlotte Wessels. Fans were seen with smiles as the beloved band that is Delain finally took the stage. The next song was the fan-favorite Suckerpunch from the previous album, Moonbathers. Delain was very energetic on stage with Wessels dancing on stage as well as raising her metal horns and headbanging to her music. Every now and then, cannons would shoot out fog and give the band a beautiful look to go along with their symphonic metal. Wessels sounds just as beautiful live as they do on record. Delain is known for being some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. One of the many times you can see this is in-between songs, Wessels would talk to the audience and members in the audience would reply to her and she would laugh it off or go along with the joke. She would also interact with the children in the audience by shaking their hands and giving them hugs. Delain kept the energy up as they played many of their greatest hits including The Glory and the Scum, Mother Machine, Stardust, and Hands of Gold. Nearing the end of the show, Wessels notices a little boy who was holding up a sign. She wondered if maybe it was a request to play a song. She held the microphone up to the boy and he said, We Are the Others. Wessels agreed that the song would make a perfect closing song for the show. Delain played their best known song We Are the Others and fans were jumping to the song as well as raising their horns. The song is about acceptance of one another without judgement and to be yourself instead of following trends or being told who to be. The song is also inspired by the 2007 murder of Sophie Lancaster who, along with her boyfriend, were murdered by a group of boys simply for being goth and “different”. Delain finished the song, thanked the audience, then left the stage. There were nothing but happy vibes on this tour as it should be. The whole band is nothing but smiles and always put 100% into their performance regardless of attendance numbers.

 

Delain

 

Amorphis

Anneke Van Giersbergen

Cannibal Corpse: Ventura Theater – Ventura, Ca 10/25/19

Death metal legends Cannibal Corpse are currently the biggest death metal band on Earth with over a worldwide sale of over two million albums also making them the top-selling death metal band of all time. In 2017, they released their fourteenth studio album, Red Before Black. In December 2018, lead guitarist Pat O’Brien was arrested for assault and battery. Currently filling on guitar is Erik Rutan who used to play in Morbid Angel and currently fronts the death metal band, Hate Eternal. Cannibal Corpse is fresh of a tour supporting Slayer on their final world tour and have now announced their own headlining tour with support from Thy Art Is Murder and Perdition Temple. One of the early stops on the tour was the old Majestic Ventura Theatre in downtown Ventura, California.
The lights went out and the crowd went into a frenzy as the death metal legends came on stage. Cannibal Corpse started their show with Code of the Slashers from their newest album, Red Before Black. The crowd went absolutely wild with brutal mosh pits. Fans were most likely hurt one way or another and they did it all in the name of metal. Two more songs from the new album Only One Will Die and Red Before Black were played and were just as brutal. One of the main highlights of the show is watching vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher head spin with his gigantic neck and is one of the most entertaining sights in metal. Cannibal Corpse continued to brutalize Ventura as they played classics such as Scourge of Iron, Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead, The Wretched Spawn, and A Skull Full of Maggots. Such disgusting song titles that are often brought up in controversies, but still awesome! Fisher announced this next song as a love song and that it was about “shooting blood from your cock!”. The fans cheered knowing what was coming next as Fisher belted out, “I…Cum…Blooood!” and so Cannibal Corpse played one of their most popular hits I Cum Blood which once again drove the fans wild and kept the mosh pits brutal. Another brutal song was played which was Make Them Suffer before Cannibal Corpse announced one more song of the night and if the fans wanted more, they would have to scream as loud as possible. The fans screamed, but Fisher was utterly disappointed by it considering how packed the venue was. He gave them one more chance and demanded for the audience to not fail him. The crowd cheered even louder the second time. Fisher said after hearing their pleas and after considering it…it was still the last song! HA! Then continued on to call himself a heartbreaker. Cannibal Corpse finished their show with Stripped, Raped, and Strangled which one of the most brutal songs played that night. Cannibal Corpse finished the song and stayed on stage as Fisher surprised the audience with just one more song. He screamed into the mic, “Hammer…Smashed…Faaaace!”. It seems the audience got their one last song and it was one of the most popular and brutal songs in metal, Hammer Smashed Face. It is recognizable by its intro and bass solo by legendary metal bassist Alex Webster. The fans went berserk with crowd surfers showing up and a mosh pit so brutal, it hurt just by watching it. Cannibal Corpse finished up the show and left. A perfect way to spend Friday night.

 

Mushroomhead: Whisky a Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 10/20/19

Mushroomhead has a lot of history in the metal music community. If you listened to nu-metal/alternative metal in the late 90’s and/or listened to bands like Slipknot, then you know Mushroomhead. They have been around since the early 90’s and have been regularly releasing music. Their latest release was The Righteous & the Butterfly in 2014 with a new album currently in the works for a possible release in April 2020. Mushroomhead has had many lineup changes with founding members and drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton. The latest members to leave the band were vocalists Waylon Reavis in 2015 and founding member/vocalist Jeffery “Nothing” Hatrix in 2018.  Mushroomhead announced a Halloween tour and one of the stops was at the world-famous Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, California.
As Mushroomhead prepared to go on stage, the floor was kind of empty. After enduring five opening bands, it was finally time for Mushroomhead to take the stage. The floor had finally filled up to a decent amount by the time Mushroomhead hit the stage. They started the show with 43. The first hing you’ll notice is how the band members wear masks. Normally they wear different-looking masks, but it seems this year they’ve chosen to wear what look like identical masks. The other thing you’ll notice is how there are four drums, two on each side of the stage. On certain songs, members Roberto Diablo and Rick “Stitch” Thomas would play those drums, but the drums would have water coming out of them making for some impressive stage display and is often one of the highlights of the show. The next song was one of their popular songs Kill Tomorrow which is the opening track from their 2003 album, XIII. The third song was another one of their most popular songs Bwomp which is an old school song and has more of their classic electro-industrial sound. The next song was the first single from their latest album, Qwerty. Mushroomhead is known for their energetic shows and for having a strong and dedicated fanbase. Fans were seen wearing their merch and even wearing masks from the past showing that they’ve been fans for a long time. Mushroomhead went on to play more hits like Sun Doesn’t Rise, Nowhere to Go, and Solitaire/Unraveling. During the performance of We are the Truth, Mushroomhead was joined by Jackie LaPonza who is the vocalist for Unsaid Fate who regularly tours with Mushroomhead and is also the girlfriend of Skinny. Nearing the end of the show, Mushroomhead played a cover of Pink Floyd‘s Empty Spaces followed by their usual closing song, Born of Desire. The show ended and fans cheered for their beloved band and hugged one another talking about how awesome of a show it was. The floor and fans were wet from the water drums, but nothing but smiles were seen.

 

UFO/Armored Saint: The Grove – Anaheim, Ca – 10/10/19

Two rock/metal legends UFO and Armored Saint announced a short tour. UFO was on tour as a part of their 50th anniversary tour. The tour would also serve as vocalist Phil Mogg’s final tour with the band. Whether the band will retire after that or continue with a replacement remains to be seen. UFO suffered a loss in the band when longtime keyboardist/guitarist Paul Raymond passed away on April 13. His replacement for the remainder of the tour would be Neil Carter who was also in UFO in the early 1980’s. One of the stops on the tour was the Grove in Anaheim, California. The show was such a huge demand that it ended up selling out weeks before the show was set to take place. Even before doors opened, there was a huge line of fans waiting to get in.
Starting the show was Los Angeles heavy metal band, Armored Saint. Armored Saint has a long history in the music as they have consistently put out music and made history of their own. Plenty of longtime fans were in attendance as they wore Armored Saint merch. Armored Saint came out and started the show with the fan-favorite Reign of Fire from their 1991 album, Symbol of Salvation. The already packed venue welcomed one of SoCal’s favorite metal bands as they cheered for them. The next song was another favorite Can U Deliver from their 1984 debut album, March of the Saint. Armored Saint was on fire as all the members were active on stage never just standing around. Whether it’s the dual shredding by Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan or the pounding of the drums by Gonzo Sandoval, Armored Saint has never sounded better in their career. Armored Saint Played more hits like Last Train Home, Seducer, and Left Hook From Right Field. Nearing the end of the show, vocalist John Bush talked about how bands have to keep making good music throughout their career and not dwell in the past. He used an example from their last release Win Hands Down from 2015 and played the title track, Win Hands Down. To end the show, Armored Saint played their most popular hit, March of the Saint. A  classic track in heavy metal history and Armored Saint played it to perfection with many fans singing along, raising their horns, and headbanging. A great show overall and the show was only half finished.
UFO is one of the most influential bands of all time with many of the great metal bands from the 1970’s and 1980’s citing them as an influence. The lights went out once again and the sold out venue cheered with anticipation as the members of UFO made their way to the stage and started with Mother Mary. UFO still puts on a great show as age has not slowed them down. UFO next played a classic track, We Belong to the Night. Fans loved singing along and showing their respects to UFO as this cold very well be the last time they would get to see UFO. UFO continued to play hit after hit like Lights Out, Only You Can Rock Me, and Too Hot to Handle. Nearing the end of the show, Mogg thanked the audience for coming out as well as supporting UFO throughout the years. To end the show, UFO played one of their most popular hits, Rock Bottom. The fans went wild as they sang along and cheered. UFO finished the show and left the stage. The fans weren’t so eager to leave the stage and stayed put and cheered. After a short break, UFO came back out for some encores. The first encore was perhaps their most famous song, Doctor Doctor. The song is also famously played by heavy metal legends Iron Maiden right as they’re about to start their show. UFO‘s classic music still sounds good live and will surely continue to influence bands years from now. To end the night, UFO played Shoot Shoot. The show came to an end and the fans continued to cheer as UFO bowed to their sold out audience, then left the stage for the final time.

 

UFO

 

Armored Saint

Dragonforce: Ventura Theater – Ventura, Ca – 10/12/19

British power metal band Dragonforce released their eighth studio album Extreme Power Metal on September 27, 2019. They are best known for their incredibly fast guitar solos which often sound like soundtracks for a video game. They rose to fame when they released their most famous song Through the Fire and Flames on the popular video game, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. Dragonforce has recently had a couple of lineup changes starting with longtime keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov who left Dragonforce in 2018. In August, longtime bassist Frédéric Leclercq left Dragonforce to join German thrash metal band, Kreator. YouTube start Stevie T was to join Dragonforce as their bassist, but had to back out due to personal problems. As a last minute addition, Dragonforce brought Once Human bassist Damien Rainaud, who also produced and mixed Extreme Power Metal. Dragonforce announced a short tour and would conclude at the MegaCruise. The final stop on the tour was the Majestic Ventura Theater in downtown Ventura, California. Opening acts Darwen’s Theory, Starkill, and Dance With the Dead warmed up the slightly packed venue.
One of the first things you’ll notice is how on the stage, there are two giant arcade machines playing clips of classic arcade games like Metal Slug, Street Fighter, and Altered Beast.
The lights went out and the venue chanted Dragonforce‘s name. Lasers lit up the stage with smoke and gave the lasers an even more beautiful sight. The band members came out one by one with vocalist Marc Hudson being the last one to come out singing the intro to the opening song Highway to Oblivion which is also the first track on the new album and the crowd was met with a shot of confetti from the cannons up front. Dragonforce was on fire from the start as guitarists/founding members Herman Li and Sam Totman viciously shred through solos in perfect harmony along with Hudson’s high-pitch vocals. The next song was the classic Fury of the Storm and this time, the audience was met with fog from fog cannons. Dragonforce had several toys to play with on stage and the first one brought out was Hudson using a gun that shot out fog in a red light made to look like a laser. For the next song, Dragonforce made note on how they loved video games and this next song was based on The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and was also a song from the new album. The song was called The Last Dragonborn and fans of the video game could surely relate. Dragonforce is known for having some lengthy songs so it wasn’t unusual for some of their songs to be over seven minutes long. One of the funnest moments of the show was when Hudson let the audience know that there was an audience member who was having his bachelor party at the show. Hudson brought him onstage and let him know that it was in fact a terrible decision to have his bachelor party at a Dragonforce show. Regardless, Hudson was determined to give him a good time. The bachelor was sat on a stool while an extremely beautiful stripper girl came out to give the bachelor a little dance. She then blindfolded the bachelor and left the stage. Hudson signaled over a large stage worker man who came over to the bachelor and started dancing on him, removed his shirt, and even massaged the bachelor. He then left and the woman came back to remove the blindfold, unbeknownst to the bachelor of what had just happened to him. Back to the performance, Dragonforce played another new song, Heart Demolition. Dragonforce took a quick break while Hudson grabbed a guitar and played a medley of classic video game music followed by drummer Gee Anzalone showing his skills with a drum solo. Dragonforce came back out and continued the show with Black Fire, Razorblade Meltdown, Cry Thunder, and Remembrance Day. To end the show, Dragonforce played the fan-favorite Valley of the Damned from their debut album of the same name, then left the stage. After a small break, Hudson came back out to thank the audience for coming out and spending the last stop of the tour with them. The rest of Dragonforce came back out for some encores. The first encore is the ending track to the new album and is a very interesting cover song. Hudson asked the audience if they had ever seen the movie, Titanic. The audience cheered and Dragonforce asked for a Celine Dion pit for the cover of My Heart Will Go On. A different take on it, but Dragonforce‘s twist on it made it work perfectly. To end the night, Dragonforce played their most famous song Through the Fire and Flames and the audience loved moshing to the song. The show came to an end and Dragonforce was joined on stage by all the opening bands as they celebrated for a tour finale. Dragonforce will always be welcomed in Ventura County.

 

Obituary/Abbath/Midnight: The Observatory – Santa Ana, Ca – 10/4/19

Another amazing metal tour made its way to the USA. This time, America would be blessed with Devil Master, Midnight, Abbath, and Obituary crushing venues in their path. This time, the Observatory in Santa Ana would be the battlegrounds for metalheads coming from the surrounding cities to witness this brutal lineup that was not to be missed. To no surprise, the show sold out and packed to the brim for this wild and unforgettable night.
Devil Master served as a nice start to the show, but things didn’t get wild until black rock ‘n’ roll/thrash metal band Midnight took the stage. Midnight recently signed with the legendary Metal Blade Records label and released their single, Rebirth By Blasphemy along with an instrumental track, Afterbirth. Midnight is currently working on a new album, their first with MBR and will hopefully be released sometime next year. The hooded figures in Midnight came out and started with Penetratal Ecstasy. Without wasting any time, the already packed audience went crazy and formed a mosh pit. The next song was another thrashy metal song, Poison Trash. By this time, the fans took advantage of there not being a barricade from the stage and started storming the stage and for the rest of the performance, stage divers and crowd surfers constantly made appearances. There’s never a calm or quiet moment at a Midnight show and such facts are proven as they laid waste to the audience by playing songs like Evil Like a Knife, You Can’t Stop Steel, Black Rock’n’Roll, and Satanic Royalty. The show had to come to an end eventually and Midnight chose Unholy and Rotten for the show’s closer. Fans continued to mosh and stage dive which is always expected at a Midnight show. Barely two bands in and still the show was just getting started.
Abbath is the solo band of Norwegian black metal legend Olve “Abbath” Eikemo. He is best known for founding the Norwegian black metal band Immortal in 1991. Abbath left Immortal in 2015 and started his solo band that same year and released their self-titled debut album in 2016. In 2019, they released their second album Outstrider and have been touring ever since. Plenty of Abbath/Immortal fans were seen in attendance and couldn’t wait to see their favorite black metal musician. The stage had a huge silver Abbath logo showing who was next to play. Abbath came out and started with Count the Dead from their debut album. Abbath unleashed his legendary black metal vocals onto the audience and they quickly went crazy with mosh pits. Abbath went on to play two new songs which were Bridge of Spams, The Artifex, and Harvest Pyre. Abbath can’t forget the legacy he had with Immortal so what better way to treat the audience with some Immortal covers. The first cover was In My Kingdom Cold followed by Tyrants. Abbath was ferocious during the whole set never letting there be a dull moment. After a few more tracks, Abbath had to call it a night by playing To War! from his debut album. Abbath finished up the show and thanked the audience by doing his infamous crab walk from one end of the stage to the other giving everyone high fives. Only the headlining act of the night was left.
Obituary is no doubt one of the greatest death metal bands of all time. On this tour, they’re celebrating 35 years since the release of their debut album, Slowly We Rot. The venue was packed to the max, especially the pit area where fans were surely hungry to mosh. The lights went out once again and the sold out crowd cheered as the members of Obituary came out one by one. All the members of Obituary were present minus singer John Tardy. The members on stage played a simple instrumental death metal intro to warm up the crowd and even with that, fans were moshing. Tardy eventually came out and Obituary finally started with Redneck Stomp. The entire floor area came to life as everyone shoved and moshed to one of death metal’s greatest bands. It almost hurt to watch everyone smash against each other. Obituary would continue the onslaught as they played brutal tracks like Chopped in Half, Dying, Internal Bleeding, and Suffocation. Obituary is a brutal band live and was only matched by the audience themselves as fans continued to crush each other and stage dive. Bodies were everywhere. The show seemed to come to an end when Obituary played Intoxication. Obituary left the stage, but the audience still seemed hungry for more. After cheering and chanting the band’s name, Obituary came back out for some encores. The first encore was A Dying World. To properly end the show, Obituary made note on how they were celebrating the 35th anniversary of their debut album and the finale of the show is the title track from that album, Slowly We Rot. The entire floor came alive once again as the most brutal mosh pit of the night formed with bodies going in every direction and stage divers everywhere. It was easily one of the best tours of the year with a metal package like this. 

 

Obituary

 

Abbath

 

Midnight

Lacuna Coil: The Regent – Los Angeles, Ca – 10/1/19

Lacuna Coil is a Gothic metal band from Italy. In 2016, they released their eighth studio album, Delirium. Their ninth studio album Black Anima will be released on October 11th. Lacuna Coil is currently on a co-headlining tour with metalcore giants, All That Remains. The tour also includes Bad Omens, Toothgrinder, and Uncured. This proved to be a worthy package of bands for metalheads. It’s no surprise to see a lot of people were mainly there for Lacuna Coil judging by people’s conversations and merch they were wearing. Regardless, people were there to have fun and a Friday night in Los Angeles is always fun.
The venue was nicely packed as Lacuna Coil prepared to take the stage. The lights went out and the venue cheered as the members of Lacuna Coil came out and stated the show with Blood, Tears, Dust from their Delirium album. Vocalist Andrea Ferro would handle the male vocals of the music while the absolutely beautiful Cristina Scabbia handles the female vocals. The whole band was on point playing their music as it gave you a rush of adrenaline and you couldn’t help but scream and sing along to the catchy music. The next song was Trip the Darkness, another one of their best songs. The fans were seen with nothing but smiles as there’s always nothing but good vibes whenever Lacuna Coil plays. The third song was the band’s most popular song, Our Truth. The band was very energetic and sounded so good live, it’s a shame they’re not bigger than they already are. Lacuna Coil kept playing all the hits as they beautifully performed classic like Zombies, Downfall, My Demons, and The House of Shame. Scabbia took a quick break to talk to the audience on how they are loving the crowd and the whole tour and of course thankful for all their tour mates in the other bands. Scabbia also made note on how with them having limited time on stage also meant having a smaller setlist. For the next song, Lacuna Coil would let the fans decide between two songs. The song choices were Swamped or Heaven’s a Lie. Heaven’s a Lie got the stronger response so Lacuna Coil went on to play that. Nearing the end of the show, Lacuna Coil next played a brand new song from the upcoming new album titled, Reckless. Scabbia took another quick break to address the audience giving a positive speech to the crowd on how it’s ok to be different and to love themselves. To end the show, Lacuna Coil played Nothing Stands in Our Way. The band went all out with this performance being one of the best live songs played on their set. Lacuna Coil finished up their set and their fans showed nothing but love for them as they cheered for them. One can only hope that Lacuna Coil comes back for a proper headline tour in the USA.

 

Voivod/Revocation: El Rey – Los Angeles, Ca – 9/28/19

Metal bands Voivod and Revocation announced a co-headlining tour and brought with them a stacked variety of metal with them which included Cryptopsy, Skeletal Remains and Conjurer (UK). Both Voivod and Revocation were promoting their most recent album releases so it only made sense to tour together and bring metalheads from different genres together. One of the many stops on the tour was the El Rey theater in Los Angeles and it was a great way to spend your Saturday night.
Voivod are heavy metal legends from Canada and released their fourteenth studio album The Wake in 2018. With fourteen studio albums, you know Voivod has a lot of history in the metal books and have released a variety of music ranging from heavy metal, to speed metal and thrash metal. A variety of sound for depending on your mood.  Voivod came out and started the show with Post Society. The heavy metal legends unleashed their spacey metal music onto the audience as they cheered and moshed. For the second song, Snake welcomed the audience to their UFO as they next played a fan favorite, Psychic Vacuum. Being a super catchy song, fans were seen raising their horns and singing along as well as keeping the mosh pits alive. Snake made sure the audience knew that they had a new album and for the next song, played the title track of the album titled Obsolete Beings. After a few more songs, Snake had to stop and let the audience know that this next song was from 1987 and told the audience how he remembers back in the day, metalheads would stage dive and crowd surf and was wondering if such a thing still existed. Apparently it was up to the fans to show him. The next song was Overreaction and the fans did Voivod proud by moshing for the whole song and even a few crowd surfers and a single stage divers that was able to get away with it. Nearing the end of the show, Snake mentioned how it was the end of Summer and it was now…Fall, which was also the name of the next song. To end the show, a special instrument was brought out. Guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain brought out the guitar of the late Denis “Piggy” D’Amour which is the last guitar he played back in Ozzfest 2003 for his final show before sadly passing away. It was a great way to honor his memory. The final song of the night was one of Voivod‘s best songs which is simply titled…Voivod. A simple name, but very effective. A thrash metal song that drove the audience wild with moshing and crowd surfing. A great performance by these heavy metal legends. Voivod finished the song, thanked the audience, then left the stage for the headlining band of the tour.
Revocation is a technical death metal band from Boston, Massachusetts. In 2018, they released their seventh studio album, The Outer Ones. To mark the one-year anniversary of the album’s release, Revocation chose to play the album in its entirety. The lights went out once again as the members of Revocation made their way to the stage and started the show with the first track from the newest album, Of Unworldly Origin. Right away, you could hear how Revocation brings their tech-death metal sound to life. Guitarist/vocalist David Davidson played his 7-string guitar to precision as heard on the album itself. The death metal music made the audience go wild as mosh pits happened throughout the performance. The next song was the next song on the album, That Which Consumes All Things followed by Blood Atonement. Aside from the music, Revocation‘s performance was accompanied by an impressive light show made different for each song so you feel almost as if you’re in space yourself. Davidson took a small break to let the fans know about how this show marked exactly one year since the album’s release and hoped the audience was enjoying the album being played in full. Revocation continued to play songs from the album Vanitas, The Outer Ones and even a song about Satan, Luciferous. The album’s finale was A Starless Darkness, a beautifully long ending at 7 minutes and 15 seconds. Instead of ending the show, Davidson asked the audience if they wanted one more song. The audience naturally cheered and so Revocation treated the fans to an old school song Dismantle the Dictator from their 2009 sophomore album, Existence is Futile. Revocation finished up their powerful performance and left the stage. Fans were satisfied with the whole tour and proved why more tours like this should happen more often.

 

Revocation

 

Voivod

Eluveitie/Korpiklaani: The Regent – Los Angeles, Ca – 9/27/19

Folk metal giants Eluveitie (El-vay-ti) and Korpiklaani (Finnish: The Backwoods Clan) embarked on a co-headlining tour across North America to please their legions of folk metal fanatics. One of the early stops on the tour was the Regent in downtown Los Angeles. Even before doors opened, plenty of fans were waiting in anticipation for two of folk metal’s most popular bands.
Korpiklaani is a folk metal band from Finland. In 2018, they released their tenth studio album, Kulkija (“The Wanderer”). Their songs are a mix of English songs and Finnish. As they prepared to go on stage, you could see the stage was setup with a backdrop matching their album cover and fences set throughout the stage giving the band a traditional folk feel. The lights went out and the packed venue cheered as the members of Korpiklaani made their way to the stage. They started the show with Hunting Song. Right away, you could feel their folk metal sound as they perfectly blended metal with traditional instruments, a violin and accordion. Their music just wants to make you get up and dance and is full of energy. The next song was Sahti (“Moonshine”) from their previous 2015 album, Noita (“Witch”). Once again, the music drove fans to jump and mosh in traditional metal style. The third song was one of Korpiklaani‘s many songs about drinking, The Land of A Thousand Drinks. Korpiklaani is always a fun band to see live as it’s almost a crime to not drink and/or get drunk at their shows since a lot of their songs are abut drinking and alcohol. All the band members were energetic with not a dull moment during their performance and made sure the audience had lots of fun at their show. Korpiklaani kept up the dancing and drinking as they played classics like Happy Little Boozer, Let’s Drink, Lempo (“Darn”) and Wooden Pints. Nearing their end of the show, Korpiklaani decided to treat the fans to a song called…Beer Beer. What a surprise. Regardless, fans danced and moshed to this super fun folk metal band. To end the night, vocalist Jonne Järvelä told the audience how since they had beer, now they needed…Vodka! And so Korpiklaani finished their show with their most popular song, Vodka. The song is in English so it’s super easy and fun to sing along to. Korpiklaani wrapped up their show and left the stage. So much fun, yet the main band of the tour was still waiting to come on.
Eluveitie is a folk metal band from Switzerland. On April 5th, 2019, they released their eighth studio album titled, Ategnatos. This is the first US tour featuring the band’s major lineup change from 2016 and their first US tour since their previous one in 2015. A lot of Eluveitie‘s songs are written and sung in the ancient extinct language, Gaulish. Their lyrics include references to Celtic mythology. They also use traditional European instruments like the hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, flutes, and whistles.  The lights went out once again and the almost full venue cheered once again as the members of Eluveitie made their way to the stage with singer Chrigel Glanzmann being the last one out. They started the show with the title track of the new album, Ategnatos. Glanzmann unleashed his folk metal growls onto the audience and drove them wild as they continued to mosh to the music. The next song was King from their 2014 album, Origins. Joining Glanzmann on vocals is newcomer Fabienne Erni who provides the female vocals of the band as well as plays the celtic harp. For the third song, Glanzmann asked the audience if they wanted the English version of the song for The Call of the Mountains or the Swiss German version titled, De Ruef vo de Bärge. Naturally, European metal fanatics prefer the non-English version of a song. The song was executed beautifully with Erni singing the whole song in Swiss German. Eluveitie next played another brand new song Deathwalker followed by a fan favorite, Quoth the Raven. Glanzmann took a quick break from the show let the audience know that it has been a long time since they last came and how good it feels to be back and was happy and appreciative seeing all the fans that came out to spend their Friday with Eluveitie. One of the most beautiful songs performed was A Rose For Epona. Erni was again shined with her angelic voice where everyone just stayed still and watched in awe. The next song was Thousandfold and was another fan favorite. Fans loved singing along, moshing and even crowd surfing. So much energy given off by Eluveitie, yet you can’t help but let the music take over you. To more great songs Ambiramus and Havoc were performed to perfection. Nearing the end of the show, Eluveitie performed another new song Breathe. To end the show, the song Helvetios was performed which is one of their best songs. Eluveitie left the stage, but the crowd wasn’t eager to go home just yet as they stayed put and cheered some more. After a short break, Eluvetie came back out for some encores. The first encore was Rebirth, the first single from the new album. To end the night, Eluveitie performed their most famous song, Inis Mona. The crowd went absolutely wild as the biggest mosh pit of the night formed. Eluveitie finished their set, thanked the audience once again for an amazing night, then left the stage. It was a great night for folk metal and hopefully it’s not long before Eluveitie and Korpiklaani return.

 

Eluveitie

 

Korpiklaani

Phantogram: Fox Theater – Pomona, California 9/21/19

Phantogram is an electronic rock band from New York. They have released three albums, four EP’s, and ten singles. They have an upcoming fourth album that will be released in the near future. After being on break for a bit, Phantogram is back on the road. A Saturday in downtown Pomona seemed like a good setting for one of the final stops on the tour. Even before doors opened, fans were lined up outside the venue in anticipation to see Phantogram.
As Phantogram prepared to come on stage, the venue had filled up to where it was too crowded in some places to walk through. The lights went out and the packed audience cheered as the two core members singer Sarah Barthel and singer/guitarist Josh Carter made their way to the stage. Phantogram played the intro track News Today which will be one of the new tracks on the upcoming album. After that, they started with their hit single Black Out Days from their previous 2014 album, Voices. Phantogram was off to a fiery start with the electronic rock sound with Barthel and her pop singing backed up by Carter’s spacey guitar-playing. The next song was Run Run Blood and it’s a fun song to sing along to. Phantogram‘s stage lights consisted of primarily red with some bright flashes every now and then. The main highlight was the back-lit screen in the far back that was showing different visuals and colors adding to the spacey feeling of the show and music. The third song performed was the single and extremely catchy Don’t Move which ironically makes you wanna move and dance. Phantogram wasn’t much for words in between songs and instead let the music do the talking for them. Barthel would regularly introduce her best friend as “Josh motherfuckin’ Carter”. Their back-lit screen would show more crazy visuals that seemed almost mesmerizing and went along perfectly with the music. Phantogram went on to play more of their hits such as You Don’t Get Me High Anymore, Mouthful of Diamonds, Howling at the Moon and Cruel World. Being that Phantogram is working on new music, it only made sense that they play some of those new tunes which will most likely be seen on the upcoming new album. Those new songs were Into Happiness, Mister Impossible and Gaunt Kids. Phantogram next played was is possibly their most famous song, Fall In Love. The audience cheered from hearing the song as they danced and sang along. Upon finishing the song, Barthel took a few minutes to talk to the audience and urged them to quiet down so she can talk about a serious matter. She talked about how during the recording of their third album Three in 2016, her sister and Carter’s best friend Becky committed suicide. She talked about how no matter how hard things get and no matter how alone or sad you feel, to never go away and to reach out to friends and loved ones for help. The last song of the night was another brand new song called Ceremony and it was written for and dedicated to Barthel’s sister. Phantogram finished the song then left the stage. The audience didn’t seem to wanna go home yet so they stayed and cheered for the band. After a small break, Phantogram came back out for some encores. The first encore was Answer and for this song, Barthel made the audience turn on the flashlights on their phones and illuminate the venue giving the song an even more beautiful vibe. To end the show, Phantogram played another one of their biggest hits, When I’m Small. It was the perfect ending for this show. Phantogram finished once again, thanked the audience for coming out and left the stage. Fans were very happy with the performance as there were nothing but smiles seen everywhere.

 

Arkona: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 9/11/19

The Pagan Rebellion tour made its way to the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California. The tour featured Russian folk metal band Arkona and Estonian folk metal band, Metsatöll. Italian dwarves Wind Rose were supposed to be part of the tour, but were forced to drop out due to visa issues. Even with these two bands, it was still a great lineup for European metal fanatics to enjoy. The Whisky was alive with metalheads even on a Wednesday night.
Metsatöll released their seventh studio album earlier this year titled Katk Kutsariks. As you have probably noticed, Metsatöll right their titles in their native Estonian language. Translating the names and lyrics of their songs can be tricky given that there is no real English translation. Regardless, European metal fanatics are known for not caring about language and care more about the music itself which is a good thing. Metsatöll came out and started the show with toona. Right away, you could feel the energy that Metsatöll gives off. The first thing you’ll notice is that aside from traditional band instruments, Metsatöll also makes heavy use of their culture by adding bagpipes, whistles, flutes and other traditional folk instruments. Metsatöll next played the title track from their newest album, Katk KutsariksMetsatöll kept the energy up and made the audience sing and dance as they played fun folk songs like Kivine maa, Ebavere, Kurjajuur and See on see maa. The band members were very energetic as they ran around on stage with nothing but smiles and made sure the fans were having the time of their lives. Metsatöll finished their performance with Metsaviha 2 then left the stage for the headlining band of the night.
Arkona released their eighth studio album Khram in 2018. Their lyrics are influenced by Russian folklore and Slavic mythology. Singer Maria “Masha Scream” Arkhipova sings her music in her native language of Russian. The lights went out and the band members came out one by one with Masha being the last one to go on stage. She started beating on her drum center stage which was also covered by a big bull-like skull. It was the intro track, Mantra. The first track played was Shtorm. Right away you can hear the folk metal music which sound beautiful yet brutal combined with Masha’s growls. The next tracks played were Tseluya zhizn’ and Khram. Arkona has a great stage presence with all the band members actively moving around on stage and interacting with one another. Lots of headbanging was also seen as well as singing along by fans. Arkona never had a dull moment on stage as they played hits like Goi, Rode, Goi!, Zakliatie, Arkaim and Stenka na Stenku. Masha showed off her impressive vocal range with a mix of traditional folk metal growls and beautiful clean chants. The show seemed to be over at one point, but the fans kept chanting the band’s name. Arkona listened and came back out for an encore. The encore was one of their most popular songs, Yarilo. It was the last chance the fans had to let loose and they did not disappoint. Arkona finished up the show, bowed and left the stage once again. A great performance by one of Pagan metal’s best bands and for sure the Hollywood crowd can’t wait until Arkona returns.

 

Arkona

 

Metsatöll

September Mourning: Canyon Club – Santa Clarita, Ca – 9/17/19

September Mourning are a hard rock band. The band came to be originally from a graphic novel depicting the character of September Mourning played by singer Emily Lazar as a human-reaper hybrid who feels the need to give some human souls a second chance, and thus toys with Fate. To get the full experience of the band one must not only submerge themselves in the music, but the graphic novels as well. The band members consist of Emily Lazar/September (vocals), Riven (guitars), Wraith (guitars) and Stitch (drums). September Mourning went on tour once again not to just perform, but to also collect the souls of fans who the band refers to as their Children of Fate. September Mourning went on tour with Smile Empty Soul so this time they’re the opening act compared to their headlining tours from last year. They have been releasing new music as of late with a new EP coming out soon. One of the stops on this tour was at the Canyon Club in Santa Clarita, California.
The lights went out and the reapers made their way to the stage with September cloaked in a robe and revealed herself to the audience. September Mourning started their show with Before the Storm from their latest album, Volume II. The band sounded great with Lazar leading with beautiful vocals sounding just like the album. The stage was dark most of the time except for lights on the side that would briefly illuminate the stage giving the band a dark vibe. Their music can be described as hard rock and Gothic metal. Lazar is a great frontwoman as she was very energetic and move her hands and body to the motion of the song. Fog would also come up on stage to give the eerie feeling of meeting death. September Mourning has been releasing music as of late and they wasted no time and performing some of their new songs. The next song was Empire followed by their newest released single, Unholy. September Mourning went back to their latest record and played Skin and Bones. You could see the chemistry between the band members as they smiled at one another and stood next to each other showing support for one another. Another new song was played which was Glass Animals. Nearing the end of the show, September Mourning brought out the big hits. Up next is a song written for their fans called Children of Fate. Lazar would have the audience sing along with her for the chorus. Being that they were the opening act, it was only natural that they were given a short set time. The grand finale for the show is the band’s biggest hit so far, 20 Below. Another great song to sing along and rock out to. September Mourning got a criminally short set time so hopefully next time they come around, it’s for a set twice as long.

 

Ghost: – Rabobank Arena – Bakersfield, California – 9/13/19

Swedish Grammy Award-winning band Ghost announced a North American tour still in support of their fourth album and latest release Prequelle which was released in 2018. Ghost is known for their theatrical outfits. Seven of the eight members go by the title of Nameless Ghouls and wear identical black costumes and silver-horned masks to conceal their identities. The band’s main man now goes by the name of Cardinal Copia and naturally resembles a Cardinal and sometimes wears a white tuxedo. His face is also a prosthetic mask with black eye makeup. Before the Cardinal existed, there was the character known as Papa Emeritus. Emeritus has gone through multiple incarnations as Papa Emeritus I-III (going backwards in age from old to young) and now a fourth and much older character called Papa Nihil who is unrelated to Cardinal Copia. Their music can be described as a mix between Blue Oyster Cult, The Beatles, ABBA and Black Sabbath‘s debut album. They explore various music genres including doom metal, pop rock, and occult rock. Although their lyrics are Satanic in nature, the band has stated numerous times that their lyrics are tongue-in-cheek humor and are not meant to be taken seriously. The first stop on the tour was the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California. The same day of the show, Ghost surprised fans by dropping two new songs, Kiss the Go-Goat and Mary On A Cross. Both part of a new 7″ LP titled, Seven Inches of Satanic Panic. Even in the early hours of the morning, fans were lined up in anticipation for the arrival of Ghost; many of which came from out of town and drove a few hours to see them. Many fans even went dressed us as the Cardinal, Papa Emeritus and even Satanic nuns known as Sisters of Sin. It was Friday the 13th, there was a full moon out and a satire Satanic band was in town. A perfect way to start the weekend. The opening act was the rock/alternative metal band, Nothing More. They were very energetic and made for a great opening band. Looking around the venue, the crowd was either into them or they weren’t. Regardless, Nothing More gave it their all and never had a dull moment in their performance. Once they finished their set, it was  time for the band that everyone came to see.
A black curtain covered the stage to keep the audience in suspense as to what was going on behind the curtain. The lights eventually went out and the whole venue erupted into a frenzy as the intro track from the newest album Ashes (Ring Around the Rosie rhyme) played over the speakers. The Nameless Ghouls were the first ones to come out and started the show with the first song from the newest album, Rats. The fans were more than ecstatic to finally see Ghost as they cheered, smiled, raised their hands and of course, sang their hearts out. The next song played was Absolution, one of the favorites from their previous album, Meliora. The song featured some explosions that added a nice surprise to the song and had fans singing along once again to the chorus. The third song played was another new track, Faith. It’s one of the more rock tunes from the album and for sure it’s a banger that will have you singing along and raising your horns. The lights went dark for a bit as Ghost prepared the first surprise of the night. The next song played was Mary On A Cross, one of the brand new songs from the new LP. A nice treat for fans to enjoy this song performed for the first time ever. The lights went out once again as the Cardinal went off stage and left it to the Nameless Ghouls to perform the haunting instrumental track, Devil’s Church. After a quick costume change, the Cardinal came back out to rejoin the Ghouls. This time, they would play Cirice (Sa-reese), the very song that earned them their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2016 as well as the #4 spot on the Mainstream Rock Charts. The Cardinal once again went off stage and the Nameless Ghouls played another instrumental song, Miasma. For an instrumental, this song is fun to listen to and makes you wanna dance. The fun didn’t stop there. More than halfway into the song, fog started to come up from center stage. Little by little, it was revealed that Papa Nihil was slowly making his way to the stage with the help of a crew member. His mission? serenade the audience with a sweet sax solo that had the audience losing their minds and cheering for Papa Nihil. The stage went dark once again and a single bright light lit up to reveal Cardinal Copia in a full white tuxedo. Not only that, but riding a tricycle. A very humorous way to entertain and surprise the fans as you could tell by the amount of laughter heard. The next song performed was another fan-favorite, Ghuleh/Zombie Queen. This song had been missing from their recent setlists and fans had missed it dearly. So to have it back on the list surely put smiles on the fans’ faces and allowed them to sing their hearts out to the chorus. Up next was yet another treat for fans. Ghost performed the instrumental track Helvetesfönster from the new album for the first time ever. It was amazing to be the first show where the song is performed live. Ghost kept playing hit after hit and it was never a dull moment and your eyes are always kept on stage not knowing what would happen next. Cardinal Copia proved to be a very majestic frontman as he embraced his character during his performance by dancing which often includes crotch thrusts that drives the female (and some male) fans wild. Watching him dance was mesmerizing as if he’s trying to lure you into his seductive grasp and you have no choice but  to submit to him. The Ghouls themselves were very entertaining as they beautifully played their instruments to perfection. The chemistry from all the band members was great. Cardinal Copia would notice how one Ghoul was taking the spotlight center stage and shooed him away. Other times, the Cardinal would sneak up behind one of them and spank them for good measure. It it by far one of the most entertaining shows of the year. Ghost would continue to play all the hits including From the Pinnacle to the Pit, Ritual, Satan Prayer and Year Zero. The song Mummy Dust was one of the highlights as one of the Ghoulettes came center stage and played a keytar to the song’s synth solo. To end the song, cannons shot out confetti along with Papa Bucks, dollar bills made to look like Ghost currency complete with a value of $666 and Papa Nihil’s face. Since one of the brand new songs was played, it only made sense to play the other new song. The next new song was Kiss the Go-Goat and it was another special moment as it was also performed live for the first time. The show seemed to come to an end as Ghost finished their set with Dance Macabre from their new album. This disco-like song gets fans up and dancing and singing along to its extremely catchy chorus, “Just wanna be, wanna bewitch you in the moonlight! Just wanna be, wanna bewitch you all night!”. The show came to an end and Ghost left and the stage went dark. All seemed quiet, but quiet is what the opposite of what Ghost is. Knowing that fans weren’t ready to go home just yet, Ghost came back out for an encore. That encore was Square Hammer from their previous Popestar EP. It is currently one of Ghost‘s most popular songs and even sat on the #1 spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts in January 2017. The chorus goes, “are you on the square? are you on the level?” which is one way fans talk to each other when referring to Ghost or the song. As the song and show came to an end, a blanket of fireworks rained down on the stage like a waterfall. A beautiful ending to a beautiful show. Ghost left the stage for the final time and guaranteed the fans left with nothing but smiles and memories. The fans got Ghost and now they had everything.

 

Power From Hell: Catch One – Los Angeles, Ca – 8/22/19

   POWER FROM HELL
Live at Catch One – Los Angeles Ca.
  Thursday, August 22nd 2019

Overview:
On this rowdy evening in the city of angels, Los Angeles heads witnessed the malevolent spectacle that is Power From Hell, hailing all the way from Brazil to treat us all with the finest blackened speed thrash. A stacked lineup brought upon by none other than Elegy Ensemble who always brings nothing but the finest underground acts in the west coast. With support from ‘Unholy Lust’, ‘Transcendence’ and ‘Malefic levitation’, you could not ask for anything more with this monster of a night. Locals and die-hards gathered over at the Catch One (Also known as Union Club) right in the black heart of the city. The venue offers the perfect vibe welcoming the heathens for a night of debauchery, metal, and mayhem. Unbeknownst to the rest of the social residents, this is definitely the place to be for the occasion.
 
Malefic Levitation:
Upon arrival, there’s notice of a delay in set times due to low attendance causing the show to be pushed back a bit, putting the first act at around 8:45. Malefic Levitation reigns in from the northern side towards Fresno. With the eerie, raw and primal essence thrown into this heavy mix, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Summoning tracks from their latest EP ‘The Ancient Plague’ displays their intention and effort for shear brutality, this music is definitely not for the weak-hearted. Best fit for the bloodthirsty who are in need of the extreme should adhere to the dark force that is Malefic Levitation. With a shortened set you’re only left to be glad being a participant of this malignant extravaganza.
 
Transcendence:
Soon after the alter makes way for one of LA’s finest that brings forth chaos no better than Transcendence who delightfully make an appearance in displaying their brutal sounds of the underground. their is a distinct sound when singer Tom lays down growls and screams that gives you the impression of a possible mic adapter, however these raw demon like sounds are straight from power passion that’s complimented from the face melting riffs from guitarist Miguel that follow. With early sounding death/thrash influenced style music giving the band their blaspheme and obscurity-filled sound, it’s no wonder the crowd gets drawn in and maintains attention in getting precisely what they came for. With tracks from the bands latest EP ‘Hour of Summoning’, you’re being delivered nothing but the goods that keeps your skull banging against the stage. Patrons who seek evil, raw and heavy death riffs must keep a close eye for these terrorizers and all their mighty glory for it is these types of tunes worth sticking too.
 
Unholy Lust:
Just south of LA reigns the tyrants of ‘Unholy Lust’ who are heavily prepared to fill the room with the might of their blackened speed thrash. Bringing darkness and chaos in a half filled room, I’ve never heard the acoustics work so good in a bands favor like this before so it’s the ultimate pleaser. In hearing this band, you’ll hear influences of old school Slayer, Possessed, Sadistic Intent and Hellhammer rolled into one for demonic intentions can best describe this type of style for legions interested. The band is no stranger to LA and have been around for quite some time. They’ve honed their craft and reached a new level in their music from an aggressive cult punk-like style to the blackened speed witchery sounds of today. Bringing masterpieces onto the stage such as hits like Evil Possession and Evil Blasphemy. You’re in for one hell of a time. There’s definitely an adrenaline rush that grooves into you because the band delivers and engages with their audience who know know and respect the gruesome essence brought by Unholy Lust.
 
Setlist:
1. Banished from the Light
2. Enslaved in Sin
3. Evil Possession
4. Los Winos (Unholy Drunks)
5. Infernal Blasphemy
6. Humanity at its end
 
Power From Hell:
As the night finally reaches its climax, you instantly notice the way the room has been filled to its brim so to speak with the die-hards as they finally get a good dose in which they have prepared for. The vigorous and wicked legion of hellions in Power From Hell fronted by singer Sodomic have extended their taste and passage for music, who once were in favor of the sadomasochistic styled music writing. Now have gone above and beyond to summon the presence of diabolical hate and malevolent speed. For as soon as the opening riff starts playing there’s already destruction taking place in the pits as the rest of the crowd makes haste. As if the barricades were enough protection from die-hards who have gathered to gaze upon these Brazilian thrashers, Sodomic does an impressive job in mesmerizing spectators with these heavily dark lyrics which as we all know keep the satanic lustful context and enriched fast pace bangers for everyone to endure. Unlike the other blackened speed acts that hail over Europe, PFH doesn’t cease the opportunity to come all the way from their homeland and leave with the sole appreciation of its heavy brigade also bringing in Alvin from Elegy Ensemble, with a back and forth almost synchronicity of engagement. The band truly stays in character of impertinent havoc. My personal favorite liking when it comes to PFH would be the sound, the way you can hear the cry of these blackened metal riffs which don’t sound recycled like you’ll often hear from time to time. This definitely keeps the blood fresh in listening for the distinction to how the perfect blend of both black and thrash metal can be the unholy duo that delivers that pure madness involving concubines and witches. With the tour well underway, the band’s currently touring the US and ending down south in Mexico. If you’re catching any of these shows, be prepared the cops paint leather gods taking over and terrorizing us all the way from Brazil.
 
Setlist:
1. Swallowed by Darkness
2. Torture Garden
3. Suicide Metal
4. Lucy’s Curse
5. Caligula
6. Elizabeth needs blood
7. Obscure Creation
8. Power from Hell
9. Lust… Sacrilege & Blood
10. Into the Sabbath
11. Prostiture of Satan
12. False Puritan Philosophies
13. Encore- Bathory (Satan my master)
14. The True Metal

Power From Hell

Unholy Lust

Transcendence

Malefic Levitation

John 5: Invasion album review

Guitar God John 5 released his monstrous ninth solo album titled Invasion on July 31 digitally with the physical copy coming out September 1st. John 5 is best known as the current guitarist for horror master Rob Zombie as well as former longtime guitarist for the Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson. John 5 is one of today’s most criminally underrated guitarists and deserves much more credit for his work and amazing musicianship. John 5’s band mates include Ian Ross on bass and Logan Miles on the drums. Together, they are known as John 5 and the Creatures. John 5’s solo albums contain no vocals and is strictly instrumental as he lets his guitar doing all the singing. I was able to get a copy of the album for a review and naturally, I was not disappointed. The album starts with the instrumental horror title track, Invasion. Once that ends, the album takes you on a journey that is best listened to when not doing anything so you can focus on the music. The first track is a bit of a techno tune with a robotic voice saying the name of the track, “I Am John 5“. Soon after, the guitar playing starts and you’re just like, “whoa!” and could make your head spin. His guitar-playing truly is one of a kind. A great starting track for the album. Midnight Mass is a super fun song to air guitar to and is easily one of the best songs on the album. Zoinks! is a clear reference to the catchphrase said by Shaggy from Scooby Doo and the song itself is a great tune. For the song Howdy, John 5 explores a more rockabilly/hillbilly/western sound which suits the name and even has backing vocals with a voice saying, “howwwdyyy!”. Very fun to listen to and even dance. Crank It – Living With Ghosts is another super catchy tune with a backing voice saying, “crank it, crank it, motherfucker”. The guitar work and music will make you wanna dance and could be played at a dance club. The next track Cactus Flower slows things down as the line “they’re all gonna laugh at you!” from the classic horror movie Carrie is played at the beginning of the song. The song is very mellow and overwhelms you with sadness like you could just lay there and think about the sad or hard times you’ve had in life. A beautiful piece of music. The next track I Want It All goes back to metal with catchy guitars and a robotic saying “I Want It All” throughout the song. The guitar segment from 2:00-2:16 is absolutely tasty. The next track is called I Like the Funk and as the name suggests, it is a very funky song. Like something out of the 1970’s. It even has a female voice in the background saying, “I Like the Funk”. Another song you could dance to. The album’s finishing song is Constant Sorrow. It’s a very interesting song because it actually sounds like a Primus song similar to the outro song from South Park with the way the guitar playing sounds. A relaxing song a great way to end the album. The whole album is super fun to listen to if you just enjoy music with no lyrics. If you’ve loved John 5’s previous work, then you will not be disappointed with this release. Order your copy now at iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music. Physical copies of the album come out September 1st so be sure to visit your local record store then! Wanna see John 5 live? He has an upcoming tour in the fall and one stop in Los Angeles which is his last home show of the year. See below for tour posters

Tracklist:

  1. Invasion
  2. I Am John 5
  3. Midnight Mass
  4. Zoinks!
  5. Howdy
  6. Crank It – Living With Ghosts
  7. Cactus Flower
  8. I Want It All
  9. I Like the Funk
  10. Constant Sorrow

 

Demons & Wizards: The Wiltern – Los Angeles, Ca – 8/17/19

Demons & Wizards are a power metal supergroup formed by vocalist Hansi Kürsch of German power metal legends Blind Guardian and guitarist Jon Schaffer of heavy metal legends, Iced Earth. In their 20 year career as a band, they have only released two album being Demons & Wizards (2000) and Crimson King (2005). A third album is currently in the works for a 2020 release. American metal fans were shocked to find out that after 20 years and only touring Europe, Demons & Wizards announced a USA tour. This tour was super special because Demons & Wizards made it clear that this would be their first and only North American tour. The band mates included members of Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. Demons & Wizards wouldn’t be coming alone. Joining them on tour would be heavy metal shock rockers Lizzy Borden and folk metal band, Týr. Los Angeles was blessed to be the first stop on the tour at the Wiltern. A perfect way to spend Saturday.
The venue was well packed just as Týr was starting. Týr is a folk metal band from the Faroe Islands, a group of small islands between Norway and Iceland. On March 8, they released their eighth studio album titled Hel, their first studio album in almost six years. Týr came out and started their show with Blood of Heroes from their previous album, Valkyrja. Plenty of Týr fans were seen in the audience singing along along sporting their merch. Týr continued with the ever so catchy song Mare of My Night from that same album. Being that Týr were from the Faroe Islands where they speak Faroese, it would only make sense for them to write music in their native language. One of those songs was Tróndur í Gøtu and is a about a Viking from the Faroe Islands who lived from 945-1035 A.D.. Týr is super fun to see live as the band members sung and danced to their music and were nothing but smiles the whole time. More songs from their set included Fire and Flame, Gates of Hel and By the Sword in My Hand. With only a short set, Týr made sure to give it their all. To end their set, they played their most famous song, the super catchy tune Hold the Heathen Hammer High. The mosh pits were wild, headbanging was seen and horns were raised. Týr finished their set and left the stage. A great start to a great night.
Lizzy Borden is a shock rock/heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. They named themselves after Lizzie Borden, a woman accused of the axe murders of her stepmother and father in 1892. In 2018, they release their seventh studio album My Midnight Things, their first album since 2007. They are known for their use of props and masks to give their live shows that shock rock image similar to those of Alice Cooper. Lizzy Borden came out and started with My Midnight Things from the new album. Singer Lizzy Borden came out with a silver skull mask and cape to give himself that menacing look. Another one of the greatest hits performed was Red Rum and naturally is about the Stephen King book, The Shining. One of the highlights of the show was when Borden came out wearing another skull mask, but this time in what looked like a doctor’s outfit. He came out with blood on his hands and painted people’s faces with it as if marking them for all eternity. Lizzy Borden is still going strong after more than 30 years and will surely be around for much longer.
It was time for Demons & Wizards to hit the stage at long last and fans were more than ecstatic as not only was this most likely the first time anyone in the venue has seen them, but would also be the one and only time they do so. The lights went out and the fans went crazy as the band members of Demons & Wizards came out and started their performance with the first track from their self-titled debut album, Rites of Passage. The music itself was powerful and a perfect blend of power and heavy metal which is what they are known for. The fans were super excited to finally see this legendary band. The next song was the next track from the same album, Heaven Denies. Schaffer was perfect on the guitar as usual and Kürsch on the vocals was perfection as well. For the third song, Demons & Wizards played one of their best and catchiest songs, Crimson King from their second album. Fans were singing along, raising their horns and moshing away. When metal bands like this play, we are all one big happy metal family. Some of the other songs performed were Love’s Tragedy Asunder, Terror Train and Poor Man’s Crusade. Kürsch made note on how he and Schaffer were in their own bands in case the audience didn’t know. On this occasion, Demons & Wizards decided to play some songs from their respective bands. The first cover song was Burning Times (Iced Earth) followed by Welcome to Dying (Blind Guardian). The show continued with an acoustic version of Wicked Witch then back to the metal with The Gunslinger. Up next were more covers which were the beautiful ballad I Died For You (Iced Earth) and the big hit, Valhalla (Blind Guardian). Demons & Wizards seemed to end the show when they played My Last Sunrise, which seemed fitting for the show’s end. Demons & Wizards left the stage, yet fans were very vocal and clearly wanted more by cheering and chanting the band’s name. After a couple of minutes, the band came back out for some encores. The first being Blood on My Hands. Kürsch once again thanked the audience for coming out and most importantly, for being so patient for the band to finally tour the states. For the show’s grand finale, Demons & Wizards played one of their best song, Fiddler on the Green. A rather relaxing song for a finale, but perfect for the occasion. Demons & Wizards once again thanked the audience, bowed and left the stage for the final time. Even though they said this would be their one and only North American tour, it’s clear that they should come back again for longtime fans as well as fans that were unable to make it.

 

Demons & Wizards

 

Lizzy Borden

 

Týr

Static-X: The Observatory – Santa Ana, Ca – 7/25/19

Static-X was one of the most popular metal bands of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. After releasing six albums, the band broke up on June 2013. Founding member/guitarist Wayne Static passed away on November 1, 2014 at the age of 48. In his honor, the original lineup of Tony Campos (bass), Koichi Fukuda (guitar) and Ken Jay (drums) reformed Static-X and fronting the band is a mysterious member only known as Xer0. He would be wearing a mask of zombie Wayne Static complete with hair. Not only that, but Static-X would also be performing their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip in its entirety as part of the album’s 20th anniversary. A massive tour was announced with many of the dates selling out ahead of time. The tour would include DevilDriver, Dope, Wednesday 13 and Raven Black. One of the last dates of the show was at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California and naturally, it sold out weeks ahead of time. Even before Raven Black started the show, the venue was packed with metal fans.
Raven Black came out and started their show with Spider from their second album 13 which was released in 2018. Right away you’ll notice how they play out their shows in a theatrical fashion full of makeup, outfits and props to add to their carnival look. Raven Black kicked some serious ass as they played songs like Sticks N Stones, Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars, Dollhouse and Seven Sins. Some of the props brought out to add to the theatrics included a giant teddy bear, hoola hoop, mace and scythe. Raven Black ended the show with their newest single Carnival which will hopefully be on the band’s next record. A great start to an explosive night.
The Duke of Spook Wednesday 13 was up next. A metal veteran in his own right, Wednesday 13 also has a very theatrical show similar to those of Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper. Wednesday 13 came out and started the show with Hail Ming. Wednesday 13 himself came out in a robe covering most of this body with a hook in hand making himself look like a pirate. The next song was Get Your Grave On. Wednesday 13 came back out without his robe revealing himself to be covered in glow-in-the-dark painting. Along with his stage antics, this was a combo done very well and kept his audience mesmerized and watching his every move. Other songs from his performance included Serpent Society, What the Night Brings, Prey For Me and a brand new song Zodiac which will be included in the band’s new upcoming album to be released later this year. Wednesday 13 wrapped up their show and left to make room for the next act.
Dope are industrial metal veterans who have been around since the late 1990’s. Founding member/singer Edsel Dope was a very close friend of Wayne Static so it was only natural to see Dope on this lineup. Dope came out and played Dope Money. Dope don’t use theatrics or fancy lighting and instead rely on their energetic stage performance to wow the audience and they always deliver on their shows. Dope played a surprisingly short set with their other songs being 6-6-Sick, Die Motherfucker Die, Burn and ended their show with a cover of You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). A short, but very energetic set for these metal veterans. The night was still young and two more bands were still left.
DevilDriver are also metal veterans who are well-known in the metal community. With frontman Dez Fafara being the main man of the band as well as being the singer for the nu-metal band, Coal Chamber. Many fans were in attendance and were stoked to see them. The lights went out and the members of DevilDriver came out and started with the brutal track, Ruthless. The mosh pits went wild and even crowd surfers started showing up. The next song performed was Grinfucked followed by Cry For Me Sky (Eulogy of the Scorned). DevilDriver was on top of their performance as Fafara sounded great and the rest of the band was also very energetic with no dull moments from start to finish on their performance. Other songs on this performance included Not All Who Wander Are Lost, My Night Sky, and even a cover of AWOLNATION‘s Sail. Fafara mentioned how on this tour, he would go back to his Coal Chamber days and would play some covers. He delivered and played Loco to which the fans responded by putting on one of the craziest mosh pits of the night and plenty of stage divers were seen. DevilDriver also played another Coal Chamber cover of Fiend and the fans loved that one too. Fafara brought out another surprise for the fans when he brought out his son Simon to help him play Clouds Over California. A touching moment between father and son. To end the show, DevilDriver played End of the Line and bid farewell to the packed venue. Just one more band to go which was the band that everyone had come to see.
The lights went out once again as the crowd cheered. The finale track from the Wisconsin Death Trip album December played overhead as a lit screen showed part of a mysterious word that seemed to complete itself as time went by. As the opening track ended, the mysterious word turned out to be the Static-X logo. Fans cheered once again as the band members came out one by one with Xer0 being the last one to come out. The first song played was Bled For Days, a great opening song from the debut album. The energy in the venue was at max as Static-X next played the title track from the debut album, Wisconsin Death Trip. The mosh pits were wild and crowd surfers were plentiful. Two more fan-favorites Fix and Sweat of the Bud were performed and kept the energy going. Xer0 did the band justice as he sounded just like Wayne did and was almost as if Wayne himself was playing. During the instrumental beginning of The Trance Is the Motion, the band left the stage as the lit screen displayed photos of Wayne to which the fans cheered. Static-X took a break from the debut album to play some classics. The intro track Bien Venidos (Spanish for Welcome) from their second album Machine played, then the band came out to play the first track from that album, Get to the Gone. Two other fan-favorites from the album were played which were Black and White and This Is Not to which the fans loved singing along to. Nearing the end of the show, Static-X went back t playing two of their most popular songs starting with I’m With Stupid where the fans loved singing to the chorus, “he’s a loserrrr!”. To end the night, Campos thanked the audience for an amazing tour and support after all these years and mentioned that they have one more song they left out. The fans should know this one and it was none other than their most famous song, Push It. Fans once again moshed and crowd surfed during the whole song. Everyone was on their feet going crazy and singing along. The show came to an end as Xer0 left the stage while the remaining members stayed to hug it out and once again thank the audience. It was truly a great night for metal and to honor the memory of Wayne Static. Keep Evil Disco alive!

 

Static-X

 

DevilDriver

 

Dope

 

Wednesday 13

 

Raven Black

Bad Religion: Ventura Theater – Ventura, Ca 7/19/19

Punk rock legends Bad Religion released their seventeenth studio album Age of Unreason on May 3, 2019. They are also preparing to go on their 40th anniversary next year. Since their formation in Los Angeles in 1980, Bad Religion has been delivering punk rock to the world. Even now they put on an energetic performance and get their fans going crazy. One of the stops was at the Ventura Theater in downtown Ventura, California. Ventura showed how big their punk scene is by selling out the venue weeks ahead of time. Bad Religion was ecstatic to perform in Ventura who have always welcomed them with open arms and consider Ventura their home away from home.
Bad Religion came out to a very packed Ventura Theater as their raging fans cheered for them. Bad Religion started their show with the fan-favorite Them and Us which sent the fans into a mosh pit frenzy. Right off the back, Bad Religion was very energetic and never had a dull moment. Rather than having fancy screens and theatrics, Bad Religion rely on their music to do the talking. They work very well together. Singer Greg Graffin let the audience know about their newly released album and gave the fans a taste by playing End of History. Even the new tunes still drive the fans wild. The third song was Fuck You followed by playing the fan-favorite Stranger Than Fiction from their 1994 album of the same name. Bad Religion is almost halfway through the tour, but they still had plenty of energy left to give their audience an amazing performance. Bad Religion is known for their band logo which is a black Christian cross with a red prohibition sign over it. Despite the logo, the band members do not consider themselves anti-religion. Aside from that, Bad Religion is also known for their heavy use of political lyrics often showing their hate towards past president like George W. Bush in their 2004 album, The Empire Strikes First. Bad Religion kept up that tradition with the current president where their new album Age of Unreason was inspired by the band’s disdain for Trump. Bad Religion kept up the entertaining show and kept the mosh pits going as they blasted through classics like 21st Century (Digital Boy), Suffer, Los Angeles Is Burning, No Control and Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell. To end the night, Bad Religion played one of their most popular songs, Sorrow. Fans moshed, sang along to the chorus and even a couple of crowd surfers showed up. A perfect way to end the night. Bad Religion left the stage and all seemed quiet. After a few minutes, the members came back out while Graffin mentioned to the audience that they forgot to play a couple of songs. The first encore was another one of their best songs Infected which once again had fans moshing and singing along. To end the show, Bad Religion performed what is perhaps their most famous song and their second all-time best single, American Jesus. Bad Religion finished their show and left the stage. Fans were left with smiles on their faces and felt more than satisfied spending their Friday night with these punk rock legends.

 

Third Eye Blind & Jimmy Eat World @ BB&T Pavilion 7/14/2019

Third Eye Blind & Jimmy Eat World – July 14th 2019

BB&T Pavilion – Camden, New Jersey

Words/Photos/Videos – Jay Porks

 

Third Eye Blind & Jimmy Eat World pulled up to Camden on Sunday with special guests Ra Ra Riot as the Summer Gods 2019 tour rolled through Dirty Jersey. It’s one of America’s top 30 cities… in terms of crime rate (for perspective, I live in NYC and we didn’t even make this list). My girlfriend and I are here for 2:30pm as she was lucky enough to win us VIP passes (Meet & Greet, soundcheck, free food, free drink, air conditioned lounge access all night). Shout outs to the “Livenation Lounge” on that one. Comfy couches and ice cold diet Pepsi? Can’t beat it.

 

Anyhow, here’s what you came for. It’s the latest Concert Confessions Video Wrap up!

Jimmy Eat World as a co-headliner was perfect. When they had the fans up I’m thinking “Man, I know it’s hot but no way those fans are gonna help us tonight!” And for those that don’t think I’m funny, the fans added to the light show as you’ll see below,

Setlist: Pain, Futures, Bleed American, Lucky Denver Mint, 23, Work, Love Never, Sweetness, Always Be, Hear You Me, Sure and Certain, Big Casino, A Praise Chorus, The Middle.

 

Third Eye Blind is working on a new record. As they were last summer when they came around and told us that. But in the meanwhile, they can continue to play fun shows for people like me and I’ll enjoy all of that.

Setlist: Screamer, The Kids, Never Let You Go, Back To Zero/Can You Take Me/London, Graduate, Wounded, I Want You, Slow Motion (Stephen Jenkins solo), Motorcycle Drive By, Company Of Strangers, Jumper, Bonfire/Anything/Crystal Baller/Blinded (When I See You), How’s It Going To Be.

Encore: Waze, Semi-Charmed Life

Judas Priest/Uriah Heep: Toyota Arena – Ontario, Ca – 6/28/19

British rock/heavy metal legends Judas Priest and Uriah Heep announced a tour together which could only mean it would be a tour to not miss for rock and metal fans alike. This year, both bands celebrated their 50th anniversary so what better way to celebrate that to tour together. In 2018, Judas Priest released their eighteenth studio album Firepower which brought the band back to their classic heavy metal roots. The fans and critics loved it. Also in 2018, Uriah Heep released their 25th studio album, Living the Dream. Friday night was the perfect way to end a full week’s worth of work and what better way to spend it than with two legendary bands.
Uriah Heep was up first and even before they came on stage, the venue was already packed with loyal metalheads of various ages. Both old school and young fans were in attendance for this monstrous show. Uriah Heep came out and started their show with Grazed By Heaven. The crowd cheered as they got a chance to hear these British legends perform their highly acclaimed music. Vocalist Bernie Shaw still has the chops to sing his heart out to perfection. Guitarist and founding member Mick Box still plays his guitar beautifully and is a majestic sight watching him play. Uriah Heep kept the energy going as they played through their hits which included Take Away My Soul, Gypsy and Stealin’. Shaw took a moment to thank the audience for all their support after all these years and was more than happy that the band was still going strong on its 50th anniversary. To end their show, Uriah Heep performed their most famous song, Easy Livin’. Uriah Heep rocked the building with nothing but energy and good music and did an excellent job warming up the audience for the heavy metal Gods.
The venue was packed with ecstatic fans just hungry for classic heavy metal. The lights went out once again and the audience roared with excitement as the intro for the song Necromancer from the new album started as the members made their way to the stage one by one and started Necromancer. Just as the singing part of the song started, the Metal God himself Rob Halford came out wearing a Necromancer outfit complete with staff and skull. It was just the start of the show and already off to a great and powerful start. The only thing missing from the band was the presence of the legendary Judas Priest guitarist, Glenn Tipton. He sadly had to retire performing with Judas Priest in 2018 due to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, though he occasionally performs with the band. In his place is producer and guitarist Andy Sneap and what a fine job he has been doing as a fill in. Next song played was the classic Heading Out to the Highway which hasn’t been performed live since 2012. Easily one of their best songs as fans could be seen singing along and banging their heads. The third song was another classic The Sentinel which also hasn’t been played since 2012. Another song that’s a perfect blend of speed and power for fans to sing along to and raise their horns. Judas Priest is obviously one of the greatest bands of all time and it’s only further proven as they flawlessly performed their music which is just as beautiful as the album sound itself. One thing that was noticed was that Judas Priest dropped some of their usual and best known tracks from their setlist like You Got Another Thing Comin’, Electric Eye, Metal Gods, and Turbo Lover. Instead, they took this opportunity to play some classics they haven’t played in a long time. Some of those songs included Judas Rising, Steeler, Out in the Cold, Tyrant, and even the live tour debut of (Take These) Chains from their monumental 1982 Screaming For Vengeance album. The song Victim of Changes was one of the highlights from the performance as Halford still hits those high pitch notes with so much power that you almost have to cover your ears. That feeling was only matched during the final guitar solo as video clips of Tipton were shown on screen playing guitar as Judas Priest paid tribute to him letting Tipton and the audience know that he is always with them in spirit. So many good songs were played and to what is supposed to be the show’s end, Judas Priest played the fan-favorite All Guns Blazing which also hasn’t been played since 1991. Judas Priest left the stage and all seemed quiet. Not too long later, the familiar sound of a motorcycle engine revving was heard over the speakers which mean it could only mean one thing. Judas Priest came back out with Halford being last, but this time he came back out on his traditional motorcycle signaling the start of one of their signature songs, Hell Bent For Leather. Fans love singing along to this song and will get all the metalheads to stop what they’re doing to jam to this. The next encore is perhaps their most famous song and that every metalhead in the world should know, Breaking the Law. Another song for fans to raise their horns to and bang their heads. Halford even let the fans sing the chorus as he held out the mic to the audience for them to sing, “Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law!”. Hearing everyone in the venue come together to sing this song was truly a spectacle. Sadly, it was time for the show to come to an end. Judas Priest ended the night with another one of their great classics, Living After Midnight.  This was the last chance the audience had to sing along with the Metal Gods and it was beautifully done as they sang along to the chorus. The show was spectacular from start to finish and no doubt everyone went home with huge smiles on their faces as all things heavy metal should be.

 

Judas Priest

 

Uriah Heep

Nita Strauss and Kore Rozzik

Almost everyone in the rock n roll community and beyond has heard the name Alice Cooper at some point. He’s a legend in metal and rock n roll history having played thousands of shows and released many well known albums and singles. However a lesser known name up until recently in Nita Strauss. Nita is the current guitarist for Alice Cooper and is rapidly rising as one of the most talented metal and rock guitarist in music today. I came across Nita through a close friend and fellow guitarist who also admired her amazing skills. However, playing with Alice Cooper is not the only performing the Nita Strauss does. She also writes her own music with her own self titled solo project and has just wrapped up her tour with the New York City band Kore Rozzik. I was lucky enough to get the chance to shoot one of the stops of this tour when they made their way through Baton Rouge, LA. They played a small theater called the Varsity Theater, which is within only steps from the campus of LSU.

The Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge, LA is one of the few small town venues left in the area for live music. Regardless of how small it is they always seem to draw big name acts such as The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, Gwar, and Black Label Society. Being a concert photographer and fellow metal head I’m always looking for great acts, local and big name alike, to shoot. The Varsity Theater is one of the few good venues left that not only book amazing acts but also allow cameras without a press or photo pass. However, like many small venues, the lighting at most shows is less than ideal for photographers. Never the less, Nita Strauss and Kore Rozzik tore the house down.

Supporting Nita on this tour was a New York City band named Kore Rozzik. Fronted by a singer known by the same name, Kore Rozzik took the New York City music scene by storm and rapidly rose among artist in the area. Also known as “The Bastard Child of New York”, he and his fellow band mates have created their imagery and stage presence based off of influences from such idols as Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Megadeth. This band, however, was unknown to me before this show and I was skeptical upon first glance. With the face paint, props and outfits I was unsure about them until they began to play. All members of this band are very talented and showcased their talents from the start to the finish of their set making all of my questions vanish. This band is most definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes this type of metal.

If any of my fellow metalheads reading this article are looking for a new act to catch live or some new music to listen to I highly recommend checking out Nita Strauss and Kore Rozzik.

 

 

 

 

Clemens Wijers “Parasite Twin” EP review

Clemens “Ardek” Wijers is best known as the lyricist and songwriter for the Dutch symphonic black metal band, Carach Angren. On July 26th, he will be releasing his second solo album, Parasite Twin. His first solo album Worlds was released in 2017. Wijers started playing piano at the tender age of 7, followed by 8 years of keyboard and music lessons at his local art school. In 2002, he studied for a year at the Tilburg Conservatory to refine his skills while continuing to compose music. After several band incantations, he formed the symphonic black metal band Carach Angren with his friend and former band mate Dennis “Seregor” Droomers on vocals and brother Ivo “Namtar” Wijers on drums. He writes a large portion of the band’s music, using classical music as both a foundation and an inspiration. After five albums with Carach Angren, they continue to achieve widespread success and gain new fans wherever they play. I got a chance to listen to the new EP to review and was super excited to see what the mind of Clemens Wijers came up with next.

  1. Machine (Memoirs of an Algorithm): The song has a nice dark industrial sound to it, like a dark rave, almost. As if it could be used as the intro to a horror movie. The song deals with the protagonist of the song reflecting and confessing the systematic and gradual decimation of his victims. It makes for a great opening track and sets the mood.
  2. Parasite Twin: The album’s title track and the catchiest song on the album. The song was inspired from a true story about a man who had surgery done on him and was found to have a mass living inside him complete with hair and teeth. The story is mixed with both horror and comedy elements. The song once again has an industrial metal sound. You can hear the comedy elements in the song when the protagonist complains about his “twin sister” always wanting the opposite of what he wants even including the lyric “bla blah blah and meep meep meep” clearly mocking his sister’s bickering. The catchiest song on the album that will have you playing the chorus in your head all day.
  3. Nightmare: The sound on this reminds you of something Nine Inch Nails would come up with and it’s amazing. An industrial, yet haunting sound. My favorite part of the whole album starts at 1:45 when it’s just keyboards, guitar and drums. It gives you that feeling of doom and being chased in an endless nightmare.
  4. Fucked Up: Another Industrial track that sounds like something Nine Inch Nails would come up with, but with a horror twist. The song also has a dance music vibe that could be played at a goth dance club. Very fun to let loose to and dance.
  5. Closing In: The album’s closing song. The story revolves around the inner world of a stalker, an idea that came to Wijers after a past experience. A rather chilling story to go along with the catchy chorus and dance music.

To listen to the single Parasite Twin, click here.
To preorder your copy of the EP plus his other solo album Worlds, click here.
Interesting in his horror metal band Carach Angren? Check out photos and review of their Los Angeles show from last October by clicking here.
Still hungry for more? We sat down for an interview with the man himself!

-CC: What was the easiest part about making the album? And the hardest?

CW: The interesting is that I never planned to make this EP. After I came back from touring in December with CA, I started working on new Carach songs but also different songs, possibly for other artists. At one point in March I had so much new stuff that I really felt the urge to release something. Then I listened to one of the songs I had already recorded in a good way (the single) and thought that the vocals I had temporary put on the track were not so bad. I kept working on some other tracks, added vocals and during the process I got more and more excited so I decided to make the EP. The challenging part for me was to not put a lot of different arrangements into the songs, I wanted to keep them more compact and “simple”. Also, I took on the whole production myself so I learned a lot about production. I upgraded my studio equipment a lot and that helped me make the mix really big and punchy.

-CC: What was your inspiration behind the story of the album? Were you out on tour looking for inspiration? Or did you sit down and let it come to you?

CW: This time there is not a story on the EP, there are 5 completely different tracks, both musically and lyrically. It was in that sense a nice escape from the Carach world where everything has to work together somehow. The inspiration for the title track came from a story I read about a guy who actually had a parasitic twin inside of him. It was almost like a horror story. They found teeth and some hair inside of him after many years. I wrote something down about it in my notes and when I was working on the music for this song the idea came to use this in the lyrics. Instead of making a horror song, I wanted it to be light and even a bit funny. So I started thinking about actually having another person attached to you or inside of you who is opposing you all the time and then the idea started to flow. I didn’t work hours in a row on it, I just let it flow like you suggest in your question.

The opening track “Machine (Memoirs of an Algorithm)” tells the story about an algorithm looking back on the damage it has on to us as humanity. This idea came to me after reading several books about the influence of changing technology on our psychology. One book that made a huge impact on me was “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr. The internet at first seemed to have been something that liberated us from distance and other boundaries but slowly has developed itself into new boundaries again. Social media used to be a tool that was completely free and you could reach so many people instantly. These days you have to pay to reach people, which is perfectly fine but it means the whole thing has completely shifted again. I found out about this when we were playing shows with CA and sometimes people that lived almost next to a venue we had played a week before would write us like “When are you playing here again?”. They hadn’t seen any update on the show. That’s when I realised that our news feed and everything we see is almost entirely controlled by algorithms, who show you paid ads. I myself am merely looking at these developments, I’m not opposing them or being a whiny critic. It just all fascinates me and that’s how I came up with this song. Depicting a machine confessing its carving out of humanity.

-CC: Could we ever see a tour where you play your solo albums?

CW: I would love to play these songs live somehow. I don’t have a plan for it yet but the desire is there yes.

After my first solo album I felt the urge to do something very different, not just soundtracks but make actual songs where I sing and play all the instruments.

-CC:  What were the similarities or differences for the creative/writing process from your solo albums to Carach Angren?

CW: The similarities are that when I compose for Carach I usually compose the whole songs in its entirety, it’s only then that the other guys take the material and make it their own, like changing the drum patterns, adding ideas for lead guitars etc. This time I was just immediately finished after I was finished haha. Also I tried to keep things simple, work with a chorus – verse structure. I had a lot of fun doing things this way. A big influence on that was when I worked on material for Till (Lindemann) [of Rammstein]. He always suggest keeping things short, compact but super effective.

Another example in which this process differed from CA is that I worked more on the production of the songs. I think the composition work was like 30% and the mixing and arranging was like 70%. I have learned a lot on the production side of the whole thing.
-CC: Were there any movies/bands that you used as inspiration for the album’s sound?CW: During the last seven months I have dramatically upgraded my studio equipment. I now have this perfect listening environment where you sit in frond of the speakers on the sweet spot and the instruments are literary placed around you, almost 360 degrees. It wasn’t easy or cheap to reach this haha but now it’s incredible. This helped me super much to improve my mixes. Some albums that really influenced me on that aspect are Michael Jackson’s Thriller. When you listen this album on good headphones you hear all these binaural effects they have put in there. It is amazing. The same goes for Nine Inch Nails – the Downward Spiral. It’s creepy how his voice his constantly panned off center for example. Things happen left and right of you and change constantly. Also I tried to make the drums really epic, not just a metal drumkit but big Taiko drums, digitally distorted snare drums, etc. I wanted it to sound industrial, massive and almost other worldly at times. For the voice, I just gave myself complete intuitive freedom. I didn’t use auto tune or any of that. I wanted it to sound raw and only used effects like delays and stuff to enhance a certain atmosphere the tracks needed in my opinion. I had a lot of fun doing this. I also only started playing guitars in January of this year. I’m left handed so I always had this idea of buying a left-handed guitar, but somehow postponed it all the time. When I finally bought one in the end of December I couldn’t stop playing. It opened a whole new world for me.

-CC: Will there be more solo albums in the future?

CW: Yes for sure, because I can’t stop writing new material haha. It gives me new inspiration and energy to return to the writing process of CA for example. It’s like a playground for me where there are no expectations, I can do whatever I want.

-CC: How is your current tour going so far?

CW: For me personally it’s one of the best tours ever. The festivals are crazy and despite the heat wave in Europe there are a surprising amount of people showing up in the club shows, really dedicated CA fans which is fucking awesome!

-CC: Any news/updates on the next Carach Angren album?

CW: We are currently planning the recordings, the music is almost completely done. We want to start recording this fall and are looking a t a 2020 release. I’m really excited about the new material, it’s going to be different again but the CA spirit is of course entirely in there.

-CC: When not doing anything music related, what do you do in your spare time? Hobbies? Books? Movies? Art?

CW: I read a lot of books, psychology, spirituality, motivational topics. Currently I have a couple of books in my phone I re-read all the time because they influence me greatly. One of the best discoveries lately for me is “The Power of your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy. It’s an incredibly book containing so much wisdom. If you are interested in those topics I definitely recommend it.

-CC: What are some bands you’d like to play with that you’ve yet to play with?

CW: To be honest I am never focused on which bands we play with because my focus is entirely on our show. Of course when opportunities arise I always look at how it would benefit the band and the fans who come to the shows. I think as being a fan of music I would look at this question differently. I remember my first metal open air festival. It was Dynamo in 1999. I remember that seriously ALL the bands I had recently discovered played there. This was a dream back then. I could just pick up the festival booklet and move from tent to main stage and back and see them all. As far as CA I would like to play an actual stadium and bring an incredible Horror experience.

-CC: What are some of the best crowds/countries you’ve played?

CW: On this tour my favourite show so far was on Full Force in Germany. Because we played at 2 am in the tent stage and still there were many fans and they were going crazy. I watched people doing little parades in the audience on “Pitch Black Box” and had to hide my smile. It was really cool and energetic haha.

-CC: Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

CW: Thanks so much for all the support I get everywhere with both CA and my solo experiments!
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